competency required of secretaries in selected business establishment (case study of first bank of nigeria plc okpara avenue, enugu)

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This research is aimed at identifying competencies required by secretaries  in First Bank Nigeria Plc., Enugu.  In carrying out the study, questionnaires were developed and administered on secretaries and their bosses in First Bank Nigeria Plc., Enugu.  After the analysis of the data, the following were found, competency required of secretaries include sound judgment, tactfulness, resourcefulness, good communication still and organizing ability.

The study also found out that modern technology has positive effect on the competence requirement of compete secretaries and managers. It was also found that secretaries have positive impact on organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

The following recommendations were made: Secretaries should be sent on regular training programmes and seminars especially where required competence is lacking, there should also be constant appraisal to maintain the competence required of secretaries.




1.1              Background of the study

1.2              Statement of the problem

1.3              Purposes of the study

1.4              Research question

1.5              Significance of the study

1.6              Scope/delimitation of the study

1.7              Definition of terms


2.0              Review of related literature

2.1              The concept of competence

2.2              The duties of a secretary

2.3              Definition and meaning of competency

2.4              Requirement of competent secretary

2.5              Review of studies on competence

2.6              Summary of review of related literature


Research methodology

3.0              Introduction

3.1              Design of the study

3.2              Population of the study

3.3              Sample size and sampling technique

3.4              Research instrument

3.5              Validity of the instrument

3.6              Administration of the instrument and retrieval

3.7              Data analysis method


Data analysis and presentation

4.1       Findings and discussion


Summary, conclusion and recommendations

5.1       Conclusion

5.2       Recommendation

5.3       Limitation of the study






1.1              BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Secretaries play important roles in the implementation of the office work.  The nature of their jobs is universally acknowledged as indispensable in caring out their duties effectively in the offices.  Despite the indispensable nature of the secretary’s functions, the secretary continues to be seen as an executive assistant.  This is more so when many writers have defined secretary in different ways and from their various definitions we will see that secretaries have so much functions to perform, which are the most indispensable functions in every organization.

The word “Secretary” is derived from the  Latin word “Secretarius” meaning, something known only to one or few and kept secret or hidden from the views or knowledge of others.

According to Advance Learners Dictionary of current English< a secretary is “an employee in an office who deals with correspondence, keeps records, makes arrangements and appointment for a particular member of staff or other organizations”.  She is one who combines or has mastery skills of shorthand and typewriting, and with a sound knowledge of secretarial duties.  According to Stanwell et al, (1979), a secretary is a staff who is concerned with the preparation. Presentation and transmission of all type of communications as well as the conventional secretarial duties of confidential nature at various levels.

The company and Allied Matters Act of 1990, s.273 (1) stated that “a secretary is an executive assistant who possess a mastery of office skills”.

Copeland, L.,  (1980), in his Encyclopedia of useful information states that a successful secretary must have stenographic skill, a clear and intelligent understand of the rules and personality as a result of good training and exposure.

Mr. Aniche G.C, (1990), aptly defined a secretary as “the window in the organization”.

Hanna et al, (1974), in her book, Secretarial Procedures and Administration, defines the modern secretary as an executive assistant, who possesses a mastery of skills, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision and who makes decision within the scope of assigned authority.

The National Secretaries Association of United States has defined as secretary as an executive assistant who possesses a mastery of office skills, who demonstrates ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who exercises initiatives and judgment and who makes decisions within the scope of assigned authority.  However, the pertinent question is in what way does the secretary assist the executive?  The answer to this question is partly individualistic and partly organization dependent.

For the boss, the secretary can be described as his indispensable assistant who possesses mastery of office skills, demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direction or supervision, exercises initiative and judgment, and makes decisions within the scope of assigned authorities.  Eni, 91987), Also she serves as the interlace in the organization’s public relations image.  She therefore, is a vital link between the public and the organization which makes Duru, (1991), to say that the secretary.

Must maintain a good relationship with members of the public, as the attitude of the secretary would have repercussions for a field”.  In any business setting, be it industry, government, scientific, radio and television as in a list of other fields, the person who ensure the efficient and smooth running of the office is the secretary, “she must be intelligent versatile with initiative and drive National Concord, (27th December, 1991).  Says that a secretary needs to be more,

“Social mentally flexible, emotional stability and

exercising good judgment as perhaps

the most important  qualifications of a secretary”.

She serves a multi-disciplinary function, and is also the vital ink in coordinating various activities, Eni, (1996).  Being an intermediary between the organization and the public on one hand and between the boss and the rest of the staff on the other hand, the secretary must be of sound judgment and must be able to take right decision even in the absence of her boss.  It is perhaps on this rather than anything else lies the competence of the secretary.  Competence is defined as the ability to perform work activities to the standards required in employment. It embodies the ability to transfer skills and knowledge to new situation within the occupational area.  It encompasses organizing and planning of work, innovation and coping with no-routine activities.  It includes those qualities of personal effectiveness required in the work place to deal with co-workers, managers and customers, Sheila, (1990).


There is a tendency to judge the competence of a secretary by ill-defined references.  These references for competence, like the role of the secretary, is both individualistic and organization dependent. Some judge the competence of a secretary based on the secretarial skill of the secretary mainly on typing and shorthand.  Others on the speed with which such skills are performed and still others on the personal attributes of the secretary such as punctuality, reliability, tact, discretion, mannerism, organizing ability and mode of dressing.

However, there is tendency to the term modern secretaries (executive secretaries) as part of the management team.  Thus, with this trend, the judgment of competence of the secretary is also looked at differently.  Perhaps, this made Whitehead, (1977) to say that, it is not enough to perform all secretarial skills which all executive need, or event he personal attributes such as, punctuality, discretion and tact which the good secretary displays.  The secretary has to become a valuable part of the management team, knowing fully well about the policies of the organization and that of his boss’s work.  One must also stress that machine operation (e.g. Computer), book keeping, accounting adequate knowledge of the boss’s work are also referral points in judging the competence of a secretary.

The problem now is, who is the competent secretary? Who do we describe as competent? What qualities are required of a competent secretary/ This is what the researcher intends to look at critically in order to make valid suggestion for the betterment of the secretarial profession.

1.3              PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this research is to find out the qualities of a competent secretary.  Strategically, this research is set out to study and possibly identify the nature and major problems in the concept and practice of secretarial competence, which has virtually crippled the administration of most business establishments.  The researcher will therefore, look into the specific or different secretaries’ competence.

1.4              RESEARCH QUESTIONS

To achieve the objective of this research, the following questions will guide the researcher.

1.                              What special skills, qualities and attributes do secretaries need to function efficiently in an organization?

2.                              How are these skills and attributes developed over time?

3.                              what factors impede the acquisition and development of these skills and attributed?

4.                              In what ways can these factors be removed so as to achieved competence?

5.                              What is the impact of a competent secretary organizational effectiveness and efficiency?


There is no doubt that a study of this nature will yield positive and significant contribution.

Firstly, it will help to identify the knowledge and skill requirements that make a secretary competent carry out his/her various roles and functions in a dynamic society.

Secondly, it will help to identify the type of training development and exposure that is required by a secretary

Thirdly, it will assist in unveiling factors that contribute to secretarial competence as well as those that impede so as to develop the skills and knowledge accordingly.

Finally, findings of this study will add to existing management literature.

1.6              DEFINITION OF TERMS

The following terms used in this study should be taken to mean the following:


It means possessing the required knowledge, skills and ability to perform a task adequately.  It is a grade or rank denoting a stage of expertness and skillfulness.


It can be defined as a person employed in an office, usually working for another person, dealing with letters, typing, keeping records, etc and making appointment and arrangement.  A secretary is an executive assistant who possesses a mastery of office skills, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibilities without direct supervision, who exercises initiative and judgment and who makes decision within the scope of assigned authority.


It is the activity of making, buying, selling or supplying things for money, commerce and trade.  Business as against leisure is any productive activities geared towards making a profit or any productive activity aimed at making profit.


The action of creating or founding something on a firm or permanent basis.  Also it is a group of powerful people won influence or control policies, ideas, taste, etc.  and usually support what has been traditionally accepted.


An organization is a group of people who gathered together in order to achieve a specific goal.


This means being able to do something in a skilled or an expert way because of training and practice.  It is the state of being well versed and adept.  It is proficiency that gives dimension to the concept of competence.  It simply means the incite of accomplishment.  This measure indicates the extent to which given sets of skills, abilities, knowledge, capability, attitude and values have been acquired.


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